Students Learn Powerful Lessons About Homelessness Through Class Video Project

October 26, 2016 -- Students in a Computer Information Systems Competency Based Special Topics class learned powerful lessons about homelessness in a dramatic way over the past couple of months through a class video project.
October 26, 2016

The students interviewed people who have experienced homelessness and created videos that focused on how they rebounded and found affordable living arrangements – many after living on the streets or in shelters for years. They created the videos for the Supportive Housing Coalition, which provides housing and services for the homeless.

“We learned that homelessness can happen to anyone,” said Megan Olguin, a CNM student majoring in Computer Information Systems with a concentration in Digital Media. “It only takes one thing to happen.”

She was one of 10 students in faculty member Marla Peters’ class who took the course and created five powerful videos that give viewers insights into homelessness. There are four one-minute videos and one nine-minute video. (Links to the videos are below.) The one-minute videos are themed, "Hopelessness to Hopefulness." The nine-minute video premiered at a gala celebration of the Supportive Housing Coalition’s 20th anniversary on Oct. 13 at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. 

Four one-minute videos: 

The nine-minute video:

“The nine-minute video contains information about the Supportive Housing Coalition in New Mexico and the stories of the people who previously experienced homelessness,” Peters said. “It was striking and made us all aware that experiencing homelessness is only a heartbeat away for many people.”

She noted that the students learned so much more than how to create videos using software and video cameras. “It opened up their hearts, made them more aware of what it means to be homeless and affected them emotionally," she said. 'Students gained more empathy for those people experiencing homelessness.”

In the videos, the people who had become homeless revealed their experiences of how rough it is to live on the streets. One woman was laid off when the economy tanked in 2007. She had two vehicles; one was totaled in a crash on the freeway, while her truck was stolen. While she lived in a tent, it was purposely set on fire.

One man was injured on the job and became addicted to prescription pain killers, which caused him to resign and ultimately lose everything.  Another man simply ran out of money and couldn’t find work. Most people who experienced homelessness were beaten up, raped and some of their friends lost their lives.

Fortunately, those in the videos found their way to the Supportive Housing Coalition of New Mexico where they received assistance in locating permanent housing and help with their addictions or disabilities.

“The videos the students made were very professional,” Peters said. “The students will be able to reference them on their résumés. The videos will be used in the Supportive Housing Coalition of New Mexico’s webpage and for other promotional purposes.”

The Supportive Housing Coalition of New Mexico develops, owns and manages a variety of affordable housing options for homeless and near homeless individuals. It provides nearly 700 units of housing through new construction, property acquisition, rehabilitation and tenant-based rental assistance vouchers.